Thursday, March 5, 2009

Made In God's Image, as a Female Part 3: A Life Giver

In my two previous blog entries regarding how women bear the image of God on earth, I spoke of their beauty, mystery and desire to be pursued. In this post I will share a few other insights that I have been given, mainly through the books Captivating and Ruby Slippers (see in the side bar). Let's look at the first woman ever created- Eve- to better understand our feminine design and purpose on earth.

Women as Life-Givers

The first woman was named Eve, which means "life-giver". What do you think of when you consider a woman giving life? Probably the first thought that comes to your mind is giving birth. Indeed, women have been blessed with such beautiful and powerful abilities to foster life. A woman conceives and nurtures the life within her own body. She is then the one to actually birth a new soul into this world. Think of the word woman- womb man. She has something no man does: a womb. Not only that but she also has breasts with which to continue to nurture the life she has birthed, both through nourishing the body of the babe and comforting the infant's soul.

It is amazing that God describes Himself to be like a mother:

"You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth." (Deut. 32:18)

"He will say, 'I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant." (Isa. 42:14)

"For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you..." (Isa. 66:11-13)

"Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!" (Isa. 49:15)

"But we proved gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children." (1 Thess. 2:7)

Through the book, Ruby Slippers, I learned that the first time God promised to make Abram fruitful, he identified Himself as El Shaddai. Also, Isaac blessed Jacob with El Shaddai's blessing to make him fruitful. If you look at the word "Shaddai", the root of it- "shad"- means "female breast" or "the breasted one".

Looking at all the above scriptures, we can see how God compares Himself to a woman laboring, birthing and nursing a babe. Through that comparison, we learn how God cares for us spiritually, but also how a woman bears God's image- and not just in the physical aspects of birthing and nursing, since God does not have a body. No, a woman's soul is made to offer life, that is why Eve means "life-giver".

"We are life-givers by design. God Himself fashioned us to be life-givers. It is a great urge within each one of us to nourish and nurture life around us...Radical feminist Gloria Steinem called the impulse in nurture and care for- a "compassion disease"...As life-giving women, we are uniquely designed to to enrich the lives of those around us. We can bring warmth, love, nurture, and grace...Women committed to developing and expressing the life-giving aspect of their natures- who embrace the value of their drive to nurture and nourish life around them- are compassionate, caring, thoughtful and creative." (Lifegiving: Discovering Secrets to a Beautiful Life)

A woman is a life-giver to her core, not just in her ability to nurture, birth and nourish humans. Women who do not have children still have the life-giving trait of God stamped upon their souls. There are many ways in which women nurture others around them...many ways in which women promote life in others. Jonalyn Fincher, in her book Ruby Slippers, termed this life-giving characteristic of many women "cultivation". She shares that women cultivate in various ways- caring for, feeding, warming, comforting people, beautifying a space. A woman may reveal her cultivating, life-giving, nature through hospitality. But the point is to build other people up. She quoted Edith Stein: "The woman's soul is...fashioned as a shelter in which other souls may unfold." We tend to people. Actually, that root "tend" shows up in other aspects of femininity, such as attention and tenderness. In Ephesians 6, husbands are admonished to cherish their wives. The word "cherish" means to foster with tender care, to treat with tenderness, to treat in a manner to encourage growth-by protection and attendance. Women are generally naturally inclined to give tenderness and attention to others, and that is precisely what they desire to be given back.

Here is one last thought to meditate on: Adam was formed out of the dust of the ground, and then put in the garden. But Eve was fashioned in the garden. She awoke in a place full of beauty and life.

In my next entries, I will continue showing how women uniquely bear the image of God through their vulnerability, interdependence, and "ezer" purpose on earth.



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